Thanking our medical frontliners

By April 6, 2021Opinion, Punchline

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

I volunteered to take a “sabbatical leave” from posting and reading points of view last Wednesday, because I knew I had to clear my mind and focus on God’s teachings and suffering. These after all are what the pandemic is all about. There are lessons to be learned, from mortality to sense of gratitude, from acknowledging blessings and making these a part of ourselves.

Many things crossed my mind but there was one thought that won’t leave me. What have we done for our medical frontliners? What have we done to really to show our appreciation for all their sacrifices, their constant exposure to infection while treating infected patients?

When was the last time we, as a community, met up with our medical frontliners, the nurses, nurse aides, and doctors, to convey our appreciation?

Since we’ve come face to face with the COVID pandemic, threads on our Facebook accounts have been full with expressions of concern for them, for their plight, their well-being.  Offering prayers for them was almost always a common response we see and read. But beyond these, what have we done to show our appreciation?

In the early days of our Enhanced Community Quarantine last year, there were pictures and images of our frontliners garbed in PPEs over layers of clothing to protect themselves against the unseen enemy. We wondered how they could survive these conditions day in day out. There were pictures of frontliners here and overseas who slept wherever they could just to fight fatigue.

There was, indeed, a foreboding of serious concern about the quality of their lives given the sacrifices expected of them while coping with the stigma attached to them being potential carriers of the virus.

In one of our earlier issues last year, we published outpouring of love and care for them. Some kind-hearted entrepreneurs offered free salon services to the frontliners who could ill afford to consider primping or look after their daily physical health needs. Some offered massage. Still some offered comfort food when where they can.  Hospitals and local governments provided free transport for them.

Its’ been more than a year since our frontliners survived the initial impact of the pandemic. Except for the usual accounts of requesting prayers for them, little is really known about their plight today.

How many got infected by their patients? How may recovered and survived? The government promised our infected frontliners financial aid package. Did they get these? Did hospital owners give them right compensation for the daily services they are asked to perform? Were they helped in their hour of need?  Are our frontliners today getting more support (or less?) than they used to?

Like the COVID patients, our medical frontliners are themselves nameless and faceless. So how can the appreciative public truly care for them?

There is little or no news about their plight today. Government health officials only cite statistics and update on the contagion but not on their plight and efforts to cope with the pandemic as they face the unseen virus every day.

Some medical studies about their plight, the emotional and psychological impact of their jobs in hospitals and at home have been released and the outlook for them is not good.

Our frontliners and their families need a lot more than our prayers for their well-being. The PUNCH will be more than happy to help in any effort we can.

Specifically, we propose that we award our medical frontliners with sky-blue ribbons, the people’s medal of valor, to be pinned on their white gowns’ or blue/green scrubs’ left sleeves.  They should no longer be faceless/nameless given what they have done for thousands for our people who practically had no chance of surviving were it not for their help. We should recognize them, and offer our help to them where we can. Discounts for foods and other services will mean a lot.

But first, I must ask for our hospital directors help – to share with us a list of their active medical frontliners to date. Their names should be etched in Sunday PUNCH’s pages for generations to remember.

We’re looking for volunteer organizations to work with us on this recognition project for our frontliners! (Please contact us at 09199957001).

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RAPPLER’S HYPOCRISY — Before I volunteered to “sign-off” my daily Facebook posts and reads last Wednesday, the fact-checkers over at Rappler decided to pull down my post on how one can help himself/herself build his/her immune system in order not to be vulnerable to infection.  

As usual, they used their trite ambiguous reason – “not conforming with its community standards.” To probe further what they Rappler referred to as its “community standards”, I came across Rappler’s article that cited its “community standards’ on COVID issues – fake news and preemptive cure!  

So, when I read it and reread my post, I could only shake my head in disbelief and consternation how it concluded that it was either fake news or preemptive cure, coming as it did from the self-acclaimed champion of press freedom and freedom of speech in the country.  

How can oft validated recommendations of medical health wellness experts be considered fake news? It could hardly be even be considered as preemptive cure because my post was about how to strengthen our bodies’ immune system to fight off infection – not as cure which is already late when infected.  

This recent encounter with Rappler reminded me of the early days of martial law in 1972, making me realize that Rappler’s fact-checkers are no different from the uneducated enlisted constabulary personnel that made decisions what should and should not see print.  

You see, Sunday Punch was the only newspaper in 1972 in the north allowed by the military regime to continue publishing with one caveat – not to publish negative reports and commentaries about the martial law. I seriously thought of closing shop but that would mean having to lay off personnel who had nowhere else to go. If publishing about positive legit news, not propaganda was all it took to keep the payroll, I agreed. The provincial Phil. Constabulary chief, however, at the time was not too happy with the AFPs decision. He hated The PUNCH (meaning ME). So, he added one condition – to submit all articles for his review. And sensing no malice, I agreed since there were enough legit news to work with. 

After two issues, I found myself scrambling for legit news to publish because the PC provincial commander in Lingayen kept withholding three – five news that he found “subversive”. To test this military luminary, I submitted the same stories to the AFP- in Camp Aguinaldo, and lo and behold, the disapproved articles passed their criteria.  

So how could AFP approve what the PC found subversive? It turned out the provincial PC commander assigned a mere PC sergeant to censor articles, who dumped articles he could not understand or appreciate. In his limited vocabulary, anything that did not sound praising martial law was subversive.  

Today, I am confronted by the same mentality at Rappler. It’s fact checkers obviously couldn’t tell the difference between fake news or preemptive cure and building, strengthening one’s immune system. Or could it be that Rappler, like the PC sergeant, cannot allow articles that will minimize need for pharm products? Are pharmas funding Rappler?   

So next time, Rappler starts shouting, rapping government of violation of press freedom, Rappler is for serving for its agenda, not for any cause for press freedom. 

The Rappler’s fact-checkers are a bunch of hypocrites.

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